Everybody’s feeling a little prickly

Published 10:01 am Monday, July 20, 2020

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Larry McDermott

Life on the farm


It’s time for all of us to take off the hairshirt. It’s getting a little prickly, and we need a good hug.

This virus has become a heavy, wet blanket, and many are not as fortunate as we to be living on a farm. Despite the dramatic drop in human contact, we have an abundance of wide open spaces and an assortment of animals to hug and squeeze.

Thank goodness the animals know nothing of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are happy to see us every day. Tails wag for attention. Roosters awaken us. Nickers spoken softly in the morning air let us know we are welcome and wanted, even if it is more about their feed than our touch.

We can stand in the middle of an open field shouting to the heavens about someone or something and not be heard by other people. At this moment in Covidtime, that is a blessing.

But if you or someone you know works in the retail world, or healthcare, law enforcement, a restaurant or one of the many other fields where human contact is a requirement, life is getting more challenging daily. It is being made difficult for them by people wearing that hairshirt. They are just one raised eyebrow away from going off on someone.

This virus is like a dust devil best dealt with by avoidance or protection, but life wouldn’t be life without those who thumb their noses at advice, rules and regulations. Add to that mix any or all of the several larger-than-life quandaries we are facing, and you have a pot ready to boil.

We are putting under the microscope other huge virus-like afflictions, racism and bad law enforcement techniques being at the top of the bubble. Mix in a dash of the rebel flag and statues, add a pinch of the First and Second Amendments, rub in some conspiracy theories, add a spoonful of Revelations, give everyone free access to social media channels and you have the perfect recipe for–dare I say it–a revolution.

In my days of youth, some of my friends and peers talked a lot about revolution. We were considered too young and inexperienced in life to understand war and the importance of bringing democracy to a place like Vietnam. Personally, I was preparing myself to become a journalist. I was going to college and working fulltime as a reporter at a local daily newspaper to pay my college bills while apprenticing at the typewriter. I reported on demonstrations, the takeover of administration buildings, sit-ins, walkouts and the like, but I never participated. I was learning that good reporters don’t take sides and don’t express opinions lest they lose the readers’ confidence in their work.

So, I never said then, or even when I went off to serve my country, that they were right. I never let myself get pulled into the lyrics of the popular song “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” although I remember my friends playing it endlessly while I was 7,000 miles from home.

But as it turned out, they were right and the powers-that-be were wrong. The people protesting the Vietnam War were right. We Americans just couldn’t accept and admit that we were wrong, a hardened course that prevailed right to the bitter end, sacrificing lives and creating a lifetime of excruciating pain for those who returned alive only to be shunned on American soil.

We were all being tested back then. We’re all being tested now.

Maybe this test is what we all need to help us see who we really are. To see if deep down we still have love for our fellow human beings and are strong enough to follow former Arkansas football coach Lou Holtz’ three rules:

Do the right thing. Do the best you can. Always show people you care.

Larry McDermott, a retired journalist, owns a 40-acre organic farm in Rutherfordton, where he grows blueberries, keeps bees and raises horses, dairy goats and chickens. Email: hardscrabblehollow@gmail.com or see farm happenings at www.facebook.com/hardscrabblehollowfarmllc